The heroin epidemic is no stranger to friends, siblings, and parents in the four-state.
“In April of this year, our daughter, Brook Erin Simmers, was 19 years-old and she passed away from a heroin overdose,” said Erin’s father, Kevin Simmers.
In 2015, the problem only got worse. In Berkeley County, County Council members said four out of five people addicted to heroin started out with a painkiller prescribed by their doctor.
“We spend $3 million a year in incarceration fees in this county, we can’t continue to do it, it’s growing every year,” Berkeley County Council member, Doug Copenhaver, said.
In the past year, heroin overdoses accounted for 42% of the calls to emergency responders. More than 1,400 callers phoned in for those who took their addiction too far, which includes mothers who couldn’t break their habit.
“Eight out of 10 babies are being born in the hospital in Berkeley County that are heroin addicted or some type of addiction,” Berkeley County Council member, Elaine Mauk, said.
Legislators said they are ready to fix the issue with a rehab center, but they are waiting on constituents’ support.
“We need a recovery center, but the recovery center, whatever we get, has got to cover all the bases,” Mauk said.
The purposed center would allow addicts to detox, rebuild their confidence, and help them find a job. However, residents are hung on its location. Residents said they do not want the rehab center in their neighborhood.
“It seems people want to pay more attention to costs than they do life. We have to start thinking of the value of saving a life,” Copenhaver said.
Even though not all county and Martinsburg City Council members see eye-to-eye on the center, County Council members are still moving forward. They are looking for someone to spearhead the center’s program.